Jane called me and explained that she was rear-ended in a car accident on US 20 and Woodlawn in Michigan City. When she got out of her vehicle, the other driver backed up and took off, leaving her at the scene by herself. She called the police and the officer took a report. Jane's car is damaged and she is injured. When we were talking, Jane asked the rhetorical question – why did the guy leave the scene? Jane also wanted to know if there is any way to receive compensation for her injuries? I will answer Jane's questions below:
I've been doing this work for about 15 years now and I treated patients injured in accidents for more than a decade before that. In my experience, people take off from accident scenes for three reasons:
He was uninsured; and/or
He was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they don't want to get arrested
If the other driver took off and the police or your lawyer cannot find them, we call this a phantom vehicle. Jane may be able to receive money for her injuries if she purchased uninsured motorist car insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage is based on the contract between Jane and her insurance company so it depends on the “terms of the contract”. Many insurance policies define an “uninsured motor vehicle” as a “hit and run.” A lot of insurance policies also require there to be physical impact between the cars, which we have in this fact scenario. If there is a phantom vehicle and no physical impact, her insurance policy may not provide coverage.
In these types of cases, it is probably best to hire a lawyer immediately because the longer you wait – the more difficult of a time you will have to find the other driver.